Football: Panthers maul Golden West in final tuneup


Golden West commits costly turnovers at inopportune times in 28­–13 loss to Porterville

By Paul Myers

PORTERVILLE – In their last game of their non-league stretch the Golden West Trailblazers learned that choices, and injuries, have consequences.

Last week against the Madera South Stallions the Trailblazer coaching staff lost two corners and a safety due to ejections after a brief skirmish. As a result the players who were ejected were not allowed to play against the Panthers, last Friday night in Porterville. Worse yet, starting quarterback Tyson Sandri was knocked out of the Madera South game with a concussion, keeping him sidelined as well.

The missing talent from Golden West’s season vets had a noticeable impact on last Friday’s 28-13 loss.

“It definitely had an effect on us. But hopefully it pays off in the end because we got some guys who wouldn’t have normally played, on film so we can coach them up better with what we saw,” Golden West head coach Paul Preheim said.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of coaching to do since the Blazers did not exactly light up the tape with big plays. In fact they did just the opposite.

When Panthers running back Isaiah Ellis scored in a push at the goal line, his only touchdown of the game on his way to 147 rushing yards, Golden West was poised to respond half way through the second quarter at the Porterville five yard line. But instead fill-in quarterback James Guillen fumbled the snap and lost the ball.

Porterville turned Golden West’s opportunity into thier gain when they kicked a field goal with 1:35 left in the half and went up 11-7. The Blazers squandered another opportunity to respond with points when Guillen fumbled the snap again, and Porterville recovered with only 47 yards between them and the end zone. But despite the poor field position, and the lack of regular defensive starters, the Blazer defense held the Panthers to hree points leaving them down 14-7 at half time.

“They didn’t do a bad job, they didn’t do a great job, but they are young and they played like young people,” Preheim said.

The defense’s youth was exposed in the second half. For as well as they had played going into he break time the Panthers found a way to stymie the Blazers in the first minute of the third quarter, when they went on a 70-yard drive for a touchdown in just three plays.

Golden West managed to mount the beginning of a comeback when running back Christian Ortiz put the team on his back and gashed the Porterville defense several times to get down to the five. Fellow running back Lonnie Wessel charged through the goal line to put six points on the board. A failed 2-point conversion try left the Blazers down by eight. An eventual touchdown by Porterville put the finishing touches on Golden West’s last pre-league contest 28-13.

The Trailblazers next matchup is more than a week away as the Blazers take their bye. It will be their first West Yosemite League contest against the Mt. Whitney Pioneers. Golden West has been able to handle them in prior seasons but the Pioneers are boasting a 3-2 record and are loaded with senior talent, including their mobile quarterback Jaedyn Pineda.

Despite getting bit by the injury bug, Preheim says his players need to show up on game day if they want to compete for a league title and playoff berth.

“We gotta win the game. We need to win at least two more to get in the playoffs and we want to win another league title. If we beat Mt. Whitney we have a good shot, if they beat us they have a better shot,” Preheim said. “They have a quarterback that can run and we learned some stuff tonight about quarterbacks that can run.”

Porterville quarterback Hector Nava Jr. blew by the defense on several occasions on his way to 78 yards on the ground on 16 carries and touchdown.

Pineda in the first five games has put up almost 300 yards on 46 carries and two touchdowns. But what makes him dangerous is his ability to run to open up the pass. Already Mt. Whitney’s signal caller has 1,407 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.

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